Even though I attended the University of Arizona, which has a strong basketball program and a football team that tries really hard, I’ve never been a huge sports fan. There’s a lot to love about March Madness, though: it takes place at the beginning of spring, college spirit is in the air and schools that don’t have the most storied football reputation (ahem, Arizona) have a chance to shine. March Madness may not appeal to those of you who dislike athletics, but there’s so much more to the series than tall men shooting hoops and running around the court. Here are some things you may not have known about the big event.
10. The NCAA doesn’t want you betting on the games.
A lot of people wager on the games, but the NCAA is against it, as betting undermines “the integrity of sports contests and jeopardizes the welfare of student-athletes and the intercollegiate athletics community.” Indiana University has a solid explanation as well, “Sports competition should be appreciated for the inherent benefits related to participation of student-athletes, coaches and institutions in fair contests, not the amount of money wagered on the outcome of the competition.”
9. Fans sacrifice sick days for March Madness.
One in seven fans have called in sick just to catch the tournament. When they really feel under the weather in the future and are almost out of sick days, they may regret this choice … or at least their colleagues who are exposed to the illness will be upset about it.
8. Some offices let employees watch March Madness at work.
Maybe this year fans won’t have to use sick days to watch March Madness after all! As it turns out, some companies love March Madness so much that they allow their workers to tune into the games during the day. Even though certain bosses don’t mind March Madness being on during the workday, they do believe in setting boundaries. “There needs to be clearly defined ground rules,” Robert Hosking, executive director of job placement firm Office Team, told the San Jose Mercury News. As long as everyone meets deadlines and refrains from monetary bets, it’s all good.
7. You are never, ever, ever going to have a perfect bracket.
No matter how well you know sports, your chances of picking a perfect bracket are 9.2 quintillion to one, according to UMKC math lecturer Ari Bavel. You’re more likely to be mauled by a shark than nail this thing. Not even Nate Silver could figure it out, but if you want to be optimistic, go ahead and channel Lloyd a la Dumb and Dumber.
6. Warren Buffett is donating $100,000 each to the 20 closest brackets.
When you’re worth $58 billion, what’s $2,000,000 to throw at sports fanatics?!
5. In 2012, Harvard made its first appearance in March Madness since 1946.
Jeremy Lin wasn’t there for the fun, but it was a big moment for the prestigious university nonetheless.
4. UCLA holds the record for the Men’s Division I Championships.
The university has 11 titles, but a 2012 Sports Illustrated report suggests all the wins don’t mean the players are wonders to work with. The piece alleges the program has veered from the UCLA way and allowed immature recruits to hurt team morale and discipline standards.
3. A 16 seed has never defeated a 1 seed.
Will the cycle be broken this year? Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski says it’s possible, “I think it can happen anytime. Really it’s just a matter of time.” Fingers crossed, but I’m not so sure 2014 will see that shiny moment.
2. The term “March Madness” was first used to describe high school basketball.
It wasn’t until 1939 that the NCAA attributed the word to its basketball tournaments.
1. March Madness commercials cost millions of dollars.
In 2012, the average cost of a 30-second commercial during March Madness was $1.34 million, and ad spending reached $1 billion for the first time ever that year. And I thought the Superbowl was wasteful.
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Oh yeah, GO CATS!